Boy Abducted from Father Who Strayed from Orthodoxy

The case of a 5-year-old boy taken by his mother from the Orthodox township of Bnei Brak several months ago, allegedly because his father was not sufficiently strict in his religious observances, is being treated by police as a kidnapping.

The serious crimes squad has been assigned to the case, it was announced Wednesday after the father reported anonymous telephone calls warning that he would never see his son unless he returns to strict Orthodoxy.

The telephone caller, a male, said the boy’s mother charged that the father stopped studying Torah, engaged in secular pursuits and had purchased a television set. Residents of Bnei Brak are vigorously discouraged from watching television or reading “secular newspapers.”

The incident recalled the case of Yossele Schumacher, who was abducted from Israel by his grandparents 30 years ago because they thought he was not being raised in a strictly Orthodox manner. He was spirited abroad, reportedly with the help of the ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta and the Satmar rebbe, who secreted him in a series of yeshivas in Europe and the United States.

The Israeli secret service finally tracked him down in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and returned him to his family in Israel. Schumacher, today a secular Jew, prefers not to discuss the episode.

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